SEOUL: South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol (pix) warned North Korea on Saturday it will be met with a “resolute” and “overwhelming” response if it attempts to use nuclear weapons, shortly after Pyongyang fired two short-range missiles in its fourth such test in less than a week.

The launches further raised tensions as North Korea has appeared to be readying for what would be its seventh nuclear test and recently legalised the use of nuclear weapons in scenarios where its leadership is under threat, Yonhap news agency reported.

“By adopting its nuclear arms policy into law, it is threatening the survival and prosperity of South Korea,“ Yoon said in a speech marking Armed Forces Day, a ceremony held at the Gyeryongdae military headquarters 160 kilometres south of Seoul.

“If North Korea attempts the use of nuclear weapons, it will face the resolute and overwhelming response of the South Korea-United States (US) alliance and our military,“ he said.

Yoon also said North Korea’s nuclear weapons development defies the international nonproliferation regime and will put the North Korean people’s lives in further pain.

“The North Korean regime must even now make the decision to denuclearize for true peace and joint prosperity on the Korean Peninsula,“ he said.

At the ceremony, Yoon also vowed to further strengthen South Korea-US military exercises, citing the recent joint naval exercise involving the US aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan.

The exercises are a major source of tension with Pyongyang, which denounces them as rehearsals for an invasion.

“President Biden and I further strengthened the two countries’ security alliance through our summit in May and my recent overseas trip,“ Yoon said, referring to their summit in Seoul and their meetings in London and New York last week.-Bernama